California’s Water Usage Data Stack

 I remember hearing about the droughts occurring in California and the current rise of population happening in the world. It made me curious to visual the data myself and see what areas would be affected in California. I approached my project by researching and gathering information from the state of California about it’s population and water supply. I collected most of the data from the published book “The Atlas of California: Mapping the Challenge of a New Era” and used this to gather my information. It shifted my attention to not only about water necessities for citizens, but also the agriculture produce. It brought my attention to how nearly half of the water supply goes to agriculture or landscaping. As cities are growing rapidly it poses a challenge for farmers to meet demand. California has one of the biggest water infrastructures in the United States, but also pose environment issues with storage dams and aqueducts. These infrastructures are the current solution to the water demand mostly during the summer and in southern part of the state. 

A created a data translation of California’s water usage made into a colorful cotton egg sculpture that became data that you could see and feel. I wanted to bring that project into the Data Stacks install being presented on campus for earth day. I then needed to create a space that will communicate the information of California’s water usage with the egg as the center piece. 

I researched some various artist and movements I came across the Guerrilla Girls, which is an anonymous group of female artist devoted to fighting against sexism and racism within the art world. The way they used simplicity to convey information in an impactful way. I took note how they would focus on one data point and hit hard at that one point on the poster or billboard. Also with how they used text and color to grab your attention. 

After looking at the space that I would be provided in the Data Stacks install. I needed to create a space inside a box frame and created three wall pieces with a bottom piece that would be the ground for the egg sculpture. I measured the space and grabbed some supplies at the store. I cut out a plastic board in the measurements needed and used that as my base. I then used a foam sheet to cover the plastic board. I chose different shades of blue to represent the different shades of water. In representing the huge percentage of water usage that goes to agriculture and landscape I put artificial grass with a white picketed fence wrapped around the walls. I wanted to show the irony of how much of California’s water goes into maintaining these fenced off areas. I also placed the artificial grass in stripes on the walls like blinds to create a sensation of peaking into the data and space. As the egg sculpture grabs your attention and brings you in to read that data that is presented in on the back wall that shows how the data is translated on the egg sculpture with the title and the pie chart with the information of the data built with the same cotton balls on the egg sculpture. My goal is to bring in observers into a visual space of data and encourage them to look and feel the data of California’s water usage. 

Citation:

 Walker, Richard A., and Suresh K. Lodha. The Atlas of California: Mapping the Challenge of a New Era. Berkeley: U of California, 2019. Web.

Tallman, Susan. “Guerrilla Girls. (Prints and Editions).” Arts Magazine 65.8 (1991): 21-22. Web.

Guerrilla Girls. The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print.

Schechter, Joel. Satiric Impersonations: From Aristophanes to the Guerrilla Girls. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1994. Print.

Alex Cardenas